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No Upside for Zuckerberg in Congress?

By Motley Fool Staff – Apr 11, 2018 at 4:52PM

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Congressional hearings aren’t likely to improve anyone’s opinion of the CEO.

In this segment from this MarketFoolery podcast, host Chris Hill is joined by Motley Fool Asset Management's Bill Barker to discuss Facebook (META -0.54%) CEO Mark Zuckerberg's hearings in Congress. They debate whether merely having to appear is a negative in itself and if it's possible public perception of the CEO could actually improve as a result.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on April 10, 2018.

Bill Barker is an employee of Motley Fool Asset Management, a separate, sister company of The Motley Fool, LLC. The views of Bill Barker and Motley Fool Asset Management are not the views of The Motley Fool, LLC and should not be taken as such.

Chris Hill: Considering it's not even earning season, we've got a bunch of actual news we're going to get to. And that's not even taking into consideration what's happening across the Potomac River as we speak right now, which is that Mark Zuckerberg is getting ready for the first of two fun-filled days with members of Congress, answering their questions.

Bill Barker: Yeah. It would be early to review that.

Hill: It would be very early to review that, because technically it hasn't started yet. But I will say this. I'll say two things. The first day is, on Motley Fool Money this week, we're going to have David Kirkpatrick as our guest. He's the author of the best-selling book, The Facebook Effect. He knows this company quite well. I'll be talking to him, I think I'm taping that Thursday afternoon, to get his take on, certainly all of the first day of hearings, and a good chunk of the second day of hearings. So, that's the first thing I'll say.

The second is, if you're a Facebook shareholder and you are someone who does not necessarily care a whole lot about what happens on Capitol Hill, and maybe you're thinking to yourself, "This is a great opportunity for Mark Zuckerberg," let me just go ahead and lower your expectations right now. As someone who worked on Capitol Hill for six years and has been in the room when these types of hearings are going on, there's really not a ton of upside. And this isn't about Facebook, and this isn't about Mark Zuckerberg, this is just about the situation that he finds himself in. Historically, there's just not a lot of upside for whoever is facing congressional committees. So, if you're going into this thinking, "Gosh, if he has a great performance over the next couple of days, he can put a lot of this behind him." No. No, he really can't. He can kind of stop the bleeding. But again, there's not a really tall ceiling on how great this is going to be.

Barker: Not a lot of friendly faces in that room, you're predicting.

Hill: Definitely not a lot of friendly faces. And it's often the case where one party or the other is more sympathetic to whoever the witness is in these types of settings, and I think people might be underestimating just how much both parties are not pleased with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. So, yeah, I think it's going to be a not great couple of days.

Barker: On the other hand, as we sometimes talk about, in a sense, he personally has an easy act to follow, and that is his public persona and clips of him talking. It would not be that hard for him to come off better than the mental image of him in most people's minds.

Hill: That's possible. Yeah, that's one potential outcome. Here's another potential outcome: he just spends the next two days literally sweating under the lights and looks every bit, if not more, awkward than people imagine him to be.

Barker: Yeah.

Hill: We'll see.

Barker: By this weekend, you'll be able to actually comment with some intelligent analysis about that.

Hill: I won't. David Kirkpatrick will. That's why we're talking to him

Bill Barker has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Chris Hill has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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